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The Access Grid May 25 2004 Jon Johansson CNS Parallel Computing and Visualization Workshops 2004 Outline Video Conferencing What is a “Computational Grid”? The Access Grid What is the “Grid” in Access Grid? Who develops the AG? Who has AG nodes? The Access Grid and WestGrid

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the access grid

The Access Grid

May 25 2004

Jon Johansson

CNS Parallel Computing and Visualization Workshops 2004

  • Video Conferencing
  • What is a “Computational Grid”?
  • The Access Grid
  • What is the “Grid” in Access Grid?
  • Who develops the AG?
  • Who has AG nodes?
  • The Access Grid and WestGrid
  • Use of GSB 315
  • More Information
video conferencing
Video Conferencing
  • Video conferencing is a technology in which video and audio streams are transmitted among the various geographically separated participants in a meeting.
  • Typically this is done through a room which has been set up by a telephone company
  • booking the room also books an operator from the phone company to run the meeting for you
video conferencing4
Video Conferencing
  • Video conferencing applications can also support:
    • Text chat
    • Document sharing (exchanging files)
    • PowerPoint
    • Application sharing (running the same program, viewing at the same content)
      • frequently there is a way for any participant to control the program
    • Electronic white board – everyone can view what someone writes and draws
  • The word “Collaboration” appears a lot in docs
video conferencing5
Video Conferencing

Desktop (computer) videoconferencing can be done through applications such as

  • Netmeeting (Windows 2000 and XP) –
  • Windows Messenger (Windows XP) –

  • MSN Messenger (Windows) -
  • iChat (Apple) -
video conferencing6
Video Conferencing


Windows Messenger


video conferencing7
Video Conferencing
  • Can buy videoconferencing appliances that plug into your computer. They come with:
    • camera
    • microphone
    • speaker
    • encoding of video and audio streams done in hardware
    • software to drive it all
  • load on your PC for encoding is then quite small
video conferencing8
Video Conferencing

ViGo by VCON

Via Video II by PolyCom

what is a computational grid
What is a “Computational Grid”?
  • We have heard about WestGrid, Western Canada’s Computational Grid
  • A computational Grid is a large-scale computing infrastructure
  • Constructed by linking computing facilities at many distributed locations
    • think of electric power grids
what is a computational grid10
What is a “Computational Grid”?
  • “Grid middleware” is the software that actually enables a collection of computers to be used as a single resource
    • e..g. Globus -
  • It should provide:
    • high-speed data movement
    • caching of large datasets
    • on-demand access to computing
  • Keep in mind that the ability to dynamically allocate resources in response to application requests for computational services remains a research project
the access grid11
The Access Grid
  • “The Access Grid is an ensemble of resources including
    • multimedia large-format displays
    • presentation and interactive environments
    • shared browsing and PowerPoint
  • interfaces to visualization environments
    • e.g. SGI vizserver
  • interfaces to Grid middleware
    • software for enabling computational Grids
the access grid12
The Access Grid
  • These resources are used to support group-to-group interactions across the Grid.
  • For example, the Access Grid is used for
    • large-scale distributed meetings
    • collaborative work sessions
    • seminars
    • lectures
    • tutorials
    • training
the access grid13
The Access Grid
  • Features of the Access Grid are:
    • Very high quality audio (once we have the bugs out)
    • Big display to enable full-size people shots and simultaneous viewing of all remote sites
    • Multiple cameras to show groups and multiple viewpoints
    • Collaborative software to enable remote participants to share and interact with data
    • Usage of IP multicast, to enable bandwidth-efficient networking
the access grid14
The Access Grid
  • The inventors of Access Grid are aiming to build a technology that can support productive meetings between remote participants that are as effective as face-to-face meetings
  • Uses commodity hardware
  • Want to get to the point where users are able to forget the technology and concentrate on the meeting itself
what is the grid in access grid
What is the “Grid” in Access Grid?
  • The Access Grid is not a computational Grid
  • Relies on the existence of Grid infrastructure
    • AG needs steady data transfer (good network)
      • packet loss degrades the audio and video streams
      • poor audio can make the technology unusable
  • Uses Globus for authentication (one example of Grid middleware)
  • Each node must have a certificate from a Trusted Certificate Authority in order to connect to a Venue Server
  • Interesting definition:
    • “The Grid is the emerging computational and networking infrastructure designed to provide uniform access to data, computational resources and humans on an extremely heterogeneous wide area network.”
who develops the ag
Who develops the AG?
  • The AccessGrid technology was developed by the Futures Laboratory at Argonne National Laboratory
    • (for Grid folks)
  • AG is deployed through the National Computational Science Alliance (NCSA) PACI program
  • The Futures Lab continues to conduct research into ways to improve the Access Grid, for example, to increase the scalability and to enhance the user interfaces.
  • Many research institutions have ongoing projects to improve usability and functionality of the Access Grid
who has ag nodes
Who has AG Nodes?





Czech Republic




Access Grid room nodes exist in (at least) these countries:





The Netherlands


Puerto Rico



Slovak Republic





United Kingdom

United States

access grid and westgrid
Access Grid and WestGrid

Each of the WestGrid institutions has an Access Grid node to

enable remote collaboration between the sites. Contact:

  • Simon Fraser University: Todd Zimmerman
  • University of British Columbia: Ritchie Argue
  • Triumf: Andrew Daviel
  • Banff Centre: Maria Lantin
  • University of Alberta: Jon Johansson
  • University of Calgary: Risto Treksler
  • University of Lethbridge: David Hinger
  • Netera: Adam Serendiuk
use of gsb 315
Use of GSB 315
  • GSB 315 is a general purpose room
  • Used heavily by members of CNS for meetings involving more than a few people
  • Our agreement is for the Access Grid to use a maximum of 40% of working time available in the room
  • Access Grid node time is booked just like other meetings in GSB 315
    • Contact:

more information
More Information
  • The Access Grid home page
  • WestGrid home page
    • There is a link to WestGrid Access Grid information on this page
  • University of Alberta Access Grid